The questions start when we are pretty young. God, what college do you want me to go to? What should I major in? Should I date this person? And as we get older though the questions don’t stop. Should I marry this person? Should I move to this city? Should I take this job? Should we start having kids?
These are questions that we all wrestle with regularly and while sometimes I wish the Bible had specific instructions for every individual and for exact circumstances, that would defeat the point of us having free will.
So how can we know Gods will for our lives so we can get clear answers to some of our biggest questions?
I personally have a four step method I follow to determine if something is God's will for my life based on the truth we find in scripture. However, I think its important to first talk about some of the misunderstandings surrounding a few of the methods used to determine God’s will. If we don’t first understand which methods for finding God’s will are being misunderstood then most of us will remain confused about the truth and what we are actually called to do.
Here are three misunderstandings about God’s will:
Misunderstanding #1: God will open doors in your life to communicate His will for you.
“God opened the door for this job opportunity so it must be the right job for me.”
When we read the verses in the Bible about God “opening” doors” in their correct context these open doors aren’t immediate confirmation that we should walk through those doors. The open doors are presented as opportunities for us to either take or not take. In 2 Corinthians 2:12-13 we see that even though God gave Paul an “open door” to preach the gospel in Troas he made the decision to instead travel to Macedonia. As we can see, opportunity doesn’t always equal the will of God. God may open doors for us but we still have free will to choose which doors to walk through.
Misunderstanding #2: God will audibly communicate His will for your life to you.
“I heard God speak to me and tell me that we were supposed to move to another state”
In scripture it never says that we will receive extra revelation from God through hearing Him audibly speak. In fact, in Rev 22: 18-19 it says that there are severe consequences when we add to God's word and prophecy.
In the Old Testament times God spoke directly and audibly to a few prophets for a very specific purpose. He revealed Himself through the prophets and they communicated His words to the people. In present times God speaks through the son Jesus. We have the privilege of “hearing” more of God today than in any other time in history because we have access to all four gospels, where Jesus’s voice is laced all throughout. There is no need to seek signs or God's voice outside of the scripture.
Misunderstanding #3: You will know something is God’s will for your life if you feel complete peace about a decision you are making.
“I feel so much peace about this decision so it must be Gods will.”
When people talk about having peace in regards to making a decision they usually are referring the verse Philipians 4:7 where it says, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.” As always its important to look at this verse in context. The peace gifted to us by God in this passage is a direct result of us casting our anxieties and requests upon Him. It does not say that the peace from God is a sign that we should move forward with a decision.
When it comes to our feelings scripture is very clear that we need to be cautious because our feelings can be misleading. Jeremiah 17:9 says “the heart is deceitful above all things.” Also in Romans 7:14-25 Paul shows us that it is possible to “feel at peace” about doing the wrong things and have an internal conflict with doing what is right. We can experience peace from God but it is a result of our relationship with him and not necessarily a green light to make a specific decision.
So now that we know the common ways we can misunderstand God’s will for our lives what are the reliable ways we can know God’s will for our lives?
Here is A four step method to determining God’s will when making a decision:
Pray. When I’m facing any decision I refer to Philippians 4:6-7 and through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving I let my requests be made known to God. When I pray in these scenarios we don’t want to pray for a sign or for God to speak to us and tell us His will audibly but instead we can ask God for wisdom and to speak to us through His word.
Then I go straight to the Bible and I ask myself if any of the choices I have in front of me contradict with anything in Gods word. The Bible provides us with the wholeness of what Jesus wanted to be communicated to us and gives us specific instructions and commands to follow. When we disobey anything He has told us to do in the Bible then we are acting outside of His will. You will also find that as you are in God's word consistently then your mind will be renewed and you will be transformed to a new way of thinking more like Christ (Romans 12:2). When we are transformed in this way we are able to better decipher the will of God for us.
Throughout scripture we are constantly called to be wise so my next step is to use wisdom. Using wisdom includes seeking godly mentorship, learning from my past experiences and thinking responsibly. The proverbs are chalked full of definitions of what wisdom is and is not.
Make the decision. Sometimes we feel uncomfortable officially taking this step and making a decision for ourselves. If you have two choices that are in alignment with the will God has given us through the Bible, you have presented your requests to God through prayer and you are using wisdom then go with whichever choice you want. At the end of the day God has a sovereign will and nothing that we do can prevent Him from accomplishing it.
I think that often times we over complicate deciphering Gods will for our lives because we are confused on how to do it. If we can just remember that God is sovereign, He has given us his word for guidance and that we can gain wisdom to make proper decisions, then we can feel confident in the choices we are making (as confident as possible). Making decisions can be challenging but at the end of the day just know that God is more interested in who you are becoming than exactly what you are doing or where you are going!
I would love to hear from you!
What is a significant decision that you are facing right now where you are seeking Gods will?
Have you ever been led astray by one of the common misinterpreted methods to discovering God’s will?
Do these steps and truths about Gods will help you have clarity on how to make decisions in your life?
xoxo Paige Hilken